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Russia tests hypersonic weapon

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Chief of General Staff of Russia Valery Gerasimov oversee the test launch of the Avangard from the Defense Ministry control room in Moscow. Associated Press/Photo by Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool Photo

Russia tests hypersonic weapon

Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw a test Wednesday of a new hypersonic glide vehicle, declaring that the weapon is “invulnerable to intercept” and will ensure Russia’s security for decades to come. The Avangard protectile, to enter service next year, reportedly can carry either nuclear or conventional weapons. It is launched from an intercontinental ballistic missile and then sails atop the atmosphere until gliding toward its target at up to 20 times the speed of sound.

The test vehicle struck a target 3,700 miles away. When first presenting the Avangard in March, the Russian leader said it had an intercontinental range and was capable of sharp maneuvers, bypassing missile defenses and striking “like a meteorite, like a fireball.” No other country had hypersonic weapons, he said then. Other weapons unveiled in March included nuclear-powered cruise missiles and a nuclear-powered underwater drone.

The test comes amid tense Russia-U.S. relations, which are at their lowest level since the Cold War over conflicts in Ukraine and Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Les Sillars

Les is a WORLD Radio correspondent and commentator. He previously spent two decades as WORLD Magazine’s Mailbag editor. Les directs the journalism program at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va.

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